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The Lottery and Other Stories
Shirley Jackson
Stephen King
Existence Is Futile - Scott Andrews I was really pleasantly surprised by this book!

It is very difficult to review it, as I think the best part of the book is to slowly uncover the story and realise that things are not at all what they seems.

The story of how Henry is treated by his surroundings because he has experienced something out of the ordinary and not least how he is treated as he has decided to give his honest opinion on the question of faith, was quite disturbing to me. It went to show how limited and set most people's minds and worlds are (albeit exaggerated) - nobody is willing to even listen to Henry, but instead instantly assume that he has gone crazy. The feeling of indignation and frustration that Henry felt, I felt along with him! Which is always a good sign :)

And I thought his retelling of the story of his wife was lovely and heartbreaking.

I won't even get into the whole ninja-element - the only way to explain or appreciate that is to read the book! :)

All these strange elements combine to make a very unusual, emotional and thoughtful book. I loved it!

I received a copy of the book for free from the author through the Read It & Reap programme
Shooting Stars (A Surah Stormsong Novel, #1) - H.D. Gordon 3½ stars from me! And close to 4 stars, but since it's not a completed story (and therefore lacking any kind of ending), I can't give this first instalment more :)

This is the first book I've read by H.D. Gordon and I will definitely be reading some of her other books - the story is just the right mix of traditional fantasy with new and refreshing elements.

I like both Surah and Charlie and, of course, Sam, and I think it's a great beginning to a new series. However, I really don't like such relatively short books that seems to be one book just chopped into 3 or more parts to make it a series. So, while I enjoyed the story, it seemed to just come to the end of a chapter and then END... And as a first in a series, most of the book was spent setting up the world and characters...
I don't mind series - at all! But I do prefer them to each have at least some kind of ending that seems somehow conclusive and I thought that was lacking and left me feeling like someone had ripped out the last pages of my book...

So, all in all, I see great potential in this series and like the world building and characters, but will have to withhold final verdict until I've read the whole story...
Dark Genesis - Dave Ferraro Firstly, I decided to go by the GR actual star meaning for 2 stars which is "It was ok" - this book should really get 2½ stars, if I could give ½ stars, because it kept me relatively entertained to about the 50% mark, and I'm usually quite generous with the 3 stars... But eventually, the things that bothered me about this book, really ended up almost ruining it for me, so I have to go with the lower rating...

If I had given 3 stars instead of 2, the last ½ star is for some good ideas - unusual use of well-known creatures and stories and a relatively fresh take on the paranormal YA genre.

What I liked:
The mystery of Alyssa's origins and her slow discovery of own story works really well and I found myself intrigued by why and how she had come to the different world.
I liked Alyssa herself - she was pretty kickass and clearly a heroine from the get-go, but I never found her to be too Mary-Sueish (more on that later though), and I liked that she was quite unsure of herself and seemed to consider (in most cases) things properly and not just make stupid decisions.

As such, I also liked Alyssa's companions - although after Vessa and Parker, they weren't that well-developed. The group of companions though was the starting point of why this story in the end essentially really disappointed me...
Everything is just TOO darn easy! People like Lace and Flax can do AMAZING things, but yet have never seemed to use them for anything before Alyssa came along.. And everyone is (despite constant stories of deceiving druids/horrors that were trusted, but ended up being evil) very willing to instantly accept Alyssa's goodness within 2 mins of meeting her...

The biggest problem for me is that essentially the book was WAY too short! I've read somewhere that Ferraro means for this to be the 1st book in a series/trilogy, and if that's true, I'm even more disappointed... Because that means there was no reason for the extreme rushing of the plot!
Basically, a VERY complex storyline and world inhabited by SO many different creatures and not one, not two, but MANY what should be epic battles each in their own right, ends up being dealt with within 400 pages.
Once you as the reader realise the very impressive (and as a result, depressing) speed with which our group of heroes get rid of the epic monsters, you just become indifferent really...
I mean, in the beginning I cared about the very scary Lady Blood and the other big monsters, but when I started to realise that they were just each in turn going to be disposed of within 10 pages each, they were no longer epic and the same happened to the story....

For me, this first book (if it really is the beginning of a series) should just have focused on Alyssa getting to know the world and some companions and maybe fought ONE of the big baddies and maybe gotten an inkling that something even bigger was going on...
As it happened, it was just one very swift struggle after another (I won't even call them battles), and any monster that can "just" be killed like that is REALLY not scary at all...

So, all in all, great idea, most of the parts about Alyssa discovering the new world and remembering the old one, were good and I think the potential in the story and the world was there, but for some reason, the story was instead turned into what felt like a bunch of roleplaying teenage boys sitting around a table playing AD&D and just so luckily manage to kill all the monsters and resolve all the riddles within an afternoon...

I received this book free from the author in return for an honest review - which I have given
I Held My Breath as Long as I Could - Kristopher Kelly Such a disturbing read! And that is high praise :) 4.5 stars!

There are scary stories, then there are stories that are listed as horror because something supposedly scary happens, but never really is and then... There are those stories that are disturbing and horrifying even without being gory or necessarily scary.

Kelly manages to take an (almost) all-round look at what "horror" means - from the blood and gore, to the frightening things our minds can do all on their own and all the way around to the horror of losing someone dear to us or suddenly realising that we are stuck in a life we never wanted and detest, but somehow cannot seem to free ourselves from...

I must admit that when I first got to the "non-fiction" part of the book after having gone through even physical reactions (I was not able to finish my lunch while reading, which pretty much never happens) to the more bloody horror of the first parts of the book, I thought that Kelly had made a mistake in wanting to seemingly just publish all and any short story he'd written. The heartfelt story of a chess game seemed somehow out of place in the middle of all the horror... Until it dawned on me that it was exactly that: horror. Only this time in a more real-life and tangible sense - the kind of horror that each of us are likely to come across in our daily lives... Which made the book jump from being a good bunch of creepy stories, to being an amazing collection of horror stories.

Well done! I look forward to seeing what Kelly comes out with next :)
The Beasts of Clawstone Castle - Eva Ibbotson Very sweet and different children's book :) Read by the lovely David Tennant :)
Doctor Who: The Stone Rose - Jacqueline Rayner My first Doctor Who book - I LOVE the show but didn't really think that I would like this type of almost fan-fiction.
I heard the audiobook read by Tennant and to be honest that was the only reason I even tried - I miss him! :)
It was just like another episode and the only thing missing was being able to see the gorgeous Tennant and lovely Rose together :) So, decent storyline and hours of Tennant in my ears.. Bliss :)
The Well of Lost Plots  - Jasper Fforde 3.75 stars - review is coming
Wintergirls - Laurie Halse Anderson 3.5 stars.
I liked this book's idea very well - Anderson's attempt to show the disjointed and shambled inner workings of a girl suffering from what is essentially a mental illness.
I think she pulled it off nicely, but personally, the thought-stream was a bit too much in the long run for me... I'll be fair though, and chalk it up to my personal tastes and not any fault of Anderson's.

The story premise was well thought-out as well, and I liked that we are dumped into the story and then start to piece together Lia's past with her disorder and her relationship with Cassie.

I'm not sure that (like some reviewers have felt) I felt that Lia was particularly spoiled or ungrateful - I honestly don't think it matters. She is a potential of what happens to some young girls in certain circumstances, and once you're in the grip of a mental illness things such as proper behaviour and consideration of others is no longer anything that exists. It simply ceases to be something that matters in a world where you struggle daily to even stay alive.

That said, my heart didn't bleed for Lia herself, but more for the generally confused, potentially very dangerous, and affectable state of mind young people/teens have when they are trying to become the people they are meant to be... It's a twisty road and this book more than anything to me shows how little it takes for a young person's mind to take a wrong turn at some point and not be able recover on it's own...
Regarding Ducks and Universes - Neve Maslakovic I was really pleasantly surprised at this book! I thought I would find it a bit slow even if it was good, but that turned out to be completely wrong!

It flowed very easily and despite the sometimes confusing scenario of dual universes (especially as we're dropped right into the story), it worked really well and the book managed to explain what was going on without huge info dumps.

I really liked Felix and while in the beginning his need to find out about his alter seems a bit odd (I guess because we never tried having a duplicate somewhere!), the book manages to also slowly getme to understand how difficult it must be to live in such a world.

The storyline is really well thought out and exciting and kept me reading! I won't reveal too much as that would be a shame :)

Definitely recommend it!
Pretty Little Liars - Sara Shepard I liked this first instalment in the PLL series - quite silly and an easy read.

I think for me, it's a bit of YA guilty pleasures, but I did think that the characterisations were done quite well and we got a feel for each of the four girls.

But... I simply don't care enough about what they're wearing and it gets quite tiresome after awhile to have to read a whole paragraph of brand names whenever anyone meets! EVERY time!
Dark Lover - J.R. Ward Such a lovely story!

I had kept off from reading this for quite some time... My forays into PNR have not been very favourable, as I need a good/believable story in order to enjoy the romance stuff - in the end, I am a fantasy/supernatural reader first and romance/erotica second!
But this story really positively surprised me! I thought the world and especially mythology was really well-done and I liked the main characters... and then I really liked the naughty bits too ;)

There were a few times when I thought the interplay between the brothers became a bit too overdone and "we're so cool", but mostly I think Ward managed to keep them likable and not too tortured (you can be tortured and not just overcompensate all the time!).

All in all, I really enjoyed this story and will definitely be looking into the next books in the series. :)
Guilty Pleasures - Laurell K. Hamilton A nice quick-to-read story

Nothing too new when you've read your share of Urban Fantasy, but still a bit different considering Anita's profession.
I liked that the story didn't do the (by now) "usual" turn into loads of freaky supernatural sex, but I've heard that changes as the series progresses. I'll likely read the next book sometime, but it's not high on my TBR.
The most disappointing thing that kept this from being a 4 star book, was the ending which seemed very rushed with everything going just right and within very few pages. Considering the build-up, that seemed a bit "cheap" to just end it that easily and "they lived happily ever after"...

Oh, and I hate cardboard, token friends that are just introduced for 5 mins just so the bad guys have something to threaten our hero with!
The Shipping News - Annie Proulx 3.75 stars

I had a bit of a hard time getting into this book as the style is very different and lyrical.
But after getting used to it, I was able to immerse myself in the story which was different than most everything I've read..
Sad, depressing and optimistic all at the same time - and the back-drop of the Newfoundland which isn't really a backdrop but more the centre and surroundings at the same time.

Hard to describe this book - I could talk about the story line, but that's not what makes this book good - what makes it different is the style and the combination of its elements.
So, give it a chance despite perhaps being a bit scared for the first 20 pages.. It's well worth it!
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time - Yasutaka Tsutsui, David James Karashima 1½ stars only, actually...
I really thought I'd like this book - premise was great and I usually like the Japanese way of thinking and writing that I've encountered elsewhere (like Haruki Murakami). But this was just quite terrible... I don't know how much of it was due to the translation, but it was so choppy and simplistic!
A lot of telling and NO showing at all! It was constantly: "We need a broom", she said. "Ok, I will go get the broom", he said. She thought it was so great that he was getting the broom. "Here is the broom", he said after returning with a broom". "Thank you!! That is so great that you got the broom, because we really needed to get it!", she said (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) And that was more or less what it was like ALL ALONG!

And maybe it was something terribly unique (time-travelling and memory repression) when this book was published in Japan, but it's nothing new to me as concepts. So I need an interesting twist or storyline or good characters, but it was just bad..
The only positive thing I can think of right now is that the cover is really pretty... :(

I've heard the manga/anime is really lovely and I could believe that, but this was not... I likely wouldn't have finished it if I didn't need it for a challenge.
Notes From A Big Country - Bill Bryson 3.75 stars, but since it's Bryson, I'll give it 4 stars here on GR.

Really liked this, it's funny, albeit not every story is equally well-written :) It's very similar to many of his considerations in his first book [b:The Lost Continent: Travels in Small Town America|26|The Lost Continent Travels in Small Town America|Bill Bryson||1888943] - this was more bite-sized :)
Trainspotting - Irvine Welsh 3.3 stars if I can do that... :)

A really gut-wrenching story and that speaks to the author's abilities that he made everything so real and emotional.
However, while I appreciate the attempt to make the story as life-like as possible with the Scottish vernacular, that is the main reason this book is not a 4 or even 5 for me.
I had to read this whole book "out loud" to myself in my head - which meant it took twice as long as normal and there were places where I didn't entirely understand every word.
Usually, I don't even "notice" that I'm reading, the story is just going on in my head - and here, the constant struggle to understand took a lot of the potential emotion out of the story for me.
And I actually used to live in Scotland, so I do know the slang and the different pronunciation :)

I think this would have been perfect as a radioplay or something similar. I must shamefully admit that I never saw the film, but I imagine it a much better medium for the story.

All in all, I thought it was a well-written book in a "bad" language!